Every Seinfeld Ever Is Coming to Hulu, As Part of the Streaming Service's Big Spending Spree
Although usually overshadowed by competitors Netflix and Amazon, Hulu has been making quite a few noisy acquisitions of its own over the past year. Now that includes a pricy deal for exclusive streaming rights to Seinfeld.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which first broke the news, Hulu will pay around $700,000 an episode for the show, beating out Amazon and Yahoo for the rights. (At 180 half hours, that's more than $125 million total.) In comparison, Netflix reportedly paid around $500,000 an episode for streaming rights to another former "Must-See TV" sitcom, Friends.
It's a big win for Hulu, which is co-owned by 21st Century Fox, Disney and Comcast. Hulu is expected to announce the deal on Wednesday morning at its New York upfronts presentation to advertisers.
Sony Pictures Television holds the landmark sitcom's syndication rights, although Warner Bros. owns the show (via Turner Broadcasting, which once owned Seinfeld producer Castle Rock). Seinfeld has helped fill the coffers of both corporate entities, having already been sold into broadcast syndication a whopping five cycles–generating more than $3 billion. (That's a lot of yadda, yadda, yadda.)
Sony and Hulu declined comment, and other details—including length of the deal—were scant.
Nonetheless, this marks the first time every episode of Seinfeld has been available on a streaming service. Even though the show's repeats have been overly exposed via broadcast and cable syndication over the years, the show (now more than 25 years old) remains a cultural touchstone. Netflix insiders have also said in the past that Friends reruns, although similarly overexposed, did well for that service.
Like other services, Hulu has been dipping its toes in original programming. But while Netflix and Amazon dramatically focus most of their efforts on original offerings, Hulu has aggressively gone after rights to TV libraries. Among Hulu's deals over the past year:
-- A multi-year deal with Turner for exclusive subscription video on demand (SVOD) rights to Cartoon Network and Adult Swim fare, as well as select current and upcoming series from TNT and TBS. Exclusive shows include TNT's The Last Ship and Murder in the First; other available shows include Adult Swim's Rick and Morty, Black Jesus, NTSF:SD:SUV and Cartoon Network's The Amazing World of Gumball, Steven Universe, Over the Garden Wall and Clarence. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Dexter's Laboratory, Ben 10, Robot Chicken, The Venture Bros., Adventure Time and Regular Show were also part of the deal, along with past titles. And Hulu gets exclusive SVOD rights to some future Turner series, including TBS' Angie Tribeca.
-- Exclusive SVOD rights to Fox's Empire, which means Hulu subscribers can watch episodes on the service the day after their initial Fox broadcast.
-- Rights to all past seasons of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which means more than 300 episodes. This was the first time CSI has ever been licensed to an SVOD service.
--Exclusive streaming rights to the FX miniseries Fargo.
-- A deal with FX for exclusive subscription streaming rights to past seasons of many of its shows. Exclusive SVOD window rights include series like Man Seeking Woman, The Comedians and Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.
-- A deal with Discovery for much of its programming, including exclusive SVOD rights to Deadliest Catch.
-- Last summer Hulu struck an exclusive, multi-year licensing agreement to stream all seasons of South Park.
-- A pact with Australian Broadcasting Corporation, making Hulu the exclusive U.S. premiere home to series 2 of The Wiggles' kids program Ready Steady Wiggle.
--A deal with Viacom to expand its Nickelodeon offerings, as well as library episodes of past shows from Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, etc.
Hulu's original programming includes returning series like Deadbeat, The Awesomes and Quick Draw. Upcoming shows include drama The Way, from Jason Katims; the event series 11/22/63 from Stephen King and J.J. Abrams starring James Franco; the Amy Poehler-produced comedy Difficult People, starring Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner; the comedy Casual, from director Jason Reitman; and the first project from Freddie Wong and RocketJump.